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Draft Text Of The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (Npr)


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Interesting read, thank you!

For those wondering re: low yield warheads
"These supplements will enhance deterrence by denying potential adversaries any mistaken confidence that limited nuclear employment can provide a useful advantage over the United States and its allies. For example, Russia's belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow's perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict. Correcting this mistaken Russian perception is a strategic imperative."

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Well, the whole discussion about nonstrategic nukes is nothing new really. It's the old debate of usability and finding new scenarios for nuclear use vs. putting up the threshold higher so any nuclear employment equals "end of the world".

 

We had the same debate back when G. W. Bush had his NPR.

 

A lot of this also seems to be bureaucratic and institutional inertia. For the US, in the current fiscal climate, the sanest thing would be cutting out one of the legs of the triad, and using the money you save by that to improve nuclear command and control. Most experts agree that silo-based ICBMs would be the best thing to cut, also improving crisis stability and solving the launch on warning-problem.

 

Of course, no one wants to lose their toys, so every few years, the different services start inventing new and innovative approaches for nuclear use to stay relevant. :)

Edited by Der Zeitgeist
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I cant see much point in silo based anymore. The least a land based part of the triad ought to be is a mobile launcher, such as the Russians have. But considering the lead the US has in the sea launched deterrent, there doesnt seem to be much point in not doubling down on it.

 

Truthfully you could do without manned bombers at all, but its not as if Stealth bombers are not useful in other roles too.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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I cant see much point in silo based anymore. The least a land based part of the triad ought to be is a mobile launcher, such as the Russians have. But considering the lead the US has in the sea launched deterrent, there doesnt seem to be much point in not doubling down on it.

 

Truthfully you could do without manned bombers at all, but its not as if Stealth bombers are not useful in other roles too.

Hard to tell how useful are the remaining boomers considering how easily Naval/CIA/FBI personnel have found it to sell information to other nations.

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All current nuclear weapons designs in US service seem to be pretty elderly (Minuteman, Trident, B-61, B-83, W-80, etc.). B-61 has been more or less continually update since the 1960's.

Replace guidance systems and tritium as needed. It isn't like improving on 100 meter CEP will make much difference.

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I cant see much point in silo based anymore. The least a land based part of the triad ought to be is a mobile launcher, such as the Russians have. But considering the lead the US has in the sea launched deterrent, there doesnt seem to be much point in not doubling down on it.

 

Truthfully you could do without manned bombers at all, but its not as if Stealth bombers are not useful in other roles too.

Hard to tell how useful are the remaining boomers considering how easily Naval/CIA/FBI personnel have found it to sell information to other nations.

 

 

Finding them at sea is one thing. Killing them there is another. The Russians are putting a lot of resources into building SSN's, but they are still years away from having an ability to track and kill your boats at sea. They couldnt do it during the cold war, there doesnt seem any evidence its changed. Granted USN SSN numbers are heading downwards in the short term which is going to mean sanitizing areas around your naval bases more difficult. But you are also about to embark on building new SSBN's, which are going to be regular holes in the water. They may even make wake homing gear, which the Soviets emphasized fairly heavily, very difficult to use against them.

 

Its true you can target SSBN's at sea with Ballistic missiles, even the Soviets practiced that. The problem has always been getting the information realtime to a missile battery, and figuring out how you can predict where a submarine is going to be 20 minutes away from where it was when you launched. That is likely going to take up a lot of ICBMs to kill one boat, at which point arguably its already paid for itself dragging missiles away from the CONUS. Bad luck for the Whales of course. :)

 

As far as Britain, I dislike the cost of SSBN's, and think we could do just as well with cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads like the Israelis do. OTOH, ive never doubted the best place for the deterrent is at sea.

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I cant see much point in silo based anymore. The least a land based part of the triad ought to be is a mobile launcher, such as the Russians have. But considering the lead the US has in the sea launched deterrent, there doesnt seem to be much point in not doubling down on it.

 

Truthfully you could do without manned bombers at all, but its not as if Stealth bombers are not useful in other roles too.

Unfortunately the silo basing is by far the cheapest part of the triad. But yes, not a lot of use for it - a flexible response would come from aircraft, an overwhelming strategic response would come from submarines.

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The US will not be able to afford modernising all three legs of the triad anyway. The B-21 program will suck up tons of money, and they will be lucky to fund the Columbia SSBN.

 

The Minuteman successor will probably be the first thing on the chopping block, maybe also LRSO.

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There seems little point in maintaining silo missiles once the Minutemen time out. The bombers will be built anyway for other requirements and the SSBNs are basically necessary for absolute deterrence. Silo basing offers no benefits other than cost, and that is moot if a new weapon development cycle is necessary.

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Whilst they are inherently vulnerable to MIRVed ICBMs and, increasingly, SLBMs, silo based ICBMs can also offer the benefits of long-term sustainability in a crisis situation vs submarines which operate from a limited number of (2?) bases which are likely to, at the very least, get hit by conventional cruise missiles in the event of a conflict.

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